EKN Exclusive: Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 20 – Preview Series – X30 Junior
Defending winner Leist ready for challenge against stout field of drivers
eKartingNews.com, the Official Media Partner of Superkarts! USA, is proud to present the Preview Series for the SKUSA SuperNationals 20. Leading up to on-track action of the 20th edition of the marquee SKUSA event and 2016 SKUSA Pro Tour finale, EKN will preview each of the 10 categories that will compete outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino from November 16-20.
Complete coverage of the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 20 can be found at the EKN Event Page. EKN Live – presented by Cooper Tires – provides play-by-play and live timing from qualifying to the final checkered flag on SuperSunday at eKartingNews.com/live.
The TaG Junior category was introduced at the SKUSA SuperNationals back in 2008 when the event made its return to the Rio. The addition of TaG Junior – along with an HPV class won by Tommy Andersen – brought Junior level drivers back to the Las Vegas extravaganza after a two-year absence. In the eight years that have played out since the class was brought into the class roster, no driver has been able to repeat as SuperNationals champion. That said, 2015 winner Arthur Leist most definitely has the ability to become the first to do so. The Brazilian was a front-runner throughout the event last year, starting P5 on SuperSunday and driving away to victory after securing the lead on lap two. The 15-year-old is returning to defend his crown against 58 other young drivers, who are all trying to etch their name in history.
Of the eight former winners, international drivers have ruled by winning seven. The only American win came courtesy of 2015 Junior World Champion Logan Sargeant, who was victorious in 2014 to close out SKUSA’s run at the Rio. Numbers are high for the number of international drivers in the field once again at 36%, a percentage that includes drivers from 13 different countries.
Championship Chase: Anybody’s Title for the Taking
X30 Junior is possibly the deepest championship chase in the seven years of the SKUSA Pro Tour. There are nine drivers still mathematically in the hunt and eight of them are scheduled to compete at the SuperNationals. Another factor that makes this year’s point standings unique is how the complexion of the title contenders changes after factoring in the drop. The top three in total points are confirmed for the SuperSunday grid no matter where they end up after the LCQ on Saturday. This group includes Dante Yu, Alex Bertagnoli and Jagger Jones. This leaves out Zoey Edenholm who, when factoring in the drop, moves from P4 to P1 in the standings.
In 2015, Edenholm (Koene USA / Tony Kart) became one of a few females to have stood on the podium in SKUSA Pro Tour history. Three top-five finishes, including two podiums at the SummerNationals, give her a one-point advantage over Yu for the point lead. Yu won his first Pro Tour feature at the SpringNationals and the CompKart pilot is coming off a championship at the California ProKart Challenge.
Bertagnoli (Franklin Motorsports / Merlin) put in an solid effort during the 2015 edition of the SuperNationals in his event debut, never letting the big stage unsettle his performance to end up fifth and on the podium. The 2016 USPKS double Junior champion went podium-less on the SKUSA Pro Tour, but his consistency on the season has him out of the top spot by a mere 44 points. Third-generation driver Jones is making his second start in the Junior category, placing runner-up in TaG Cadet back in 2014. The RPM / Tony Kart driver stood on the Pro Tour podium twice this year with a runner-up finish in Phoenix and third-place run on Saturday at the SummerNationals.
Great Britain driver Jonny Edgar was able to secure a SuperNationals victory in the final corner during last year’s TaG Cadet main event. The 12-year-old has moved up to the Junior ranks this season, already earning his first podium at the SpringNationals. The SummerNationals did not pan out as he hoped, while the Kosmic driver is still just 85 points out of the top position in the title chase. One driver who we are shocked to see in among those still with a chance to fight for the championship is Dylan Tavella (IRM / Tony Kart). The second-year Junior driver missed the SpringNationals, but came back to dominate the SummerNationals at New Castle. His strong performance has put him only 115 points out of the championship lead. It is less then the amount 2013 champion Yurik Carvalho was trailing heading into the SuperNationals, earning near maximum points to score the title. Those six are the likely drivers to battle for each and every point throughout the official sessions during the week.
California drivers and PKS teammates Oliver Calvo (Top Kart) and Tomas Mejia (Tony Kart) are on the outside looking in with a shot at the final championship podium. The two Junior rookies stood on the Round One podium in Phoenix, but have been unable to return ever since. Calvo came one corner away from winning the TaG Cadet feature last year, as Mejia drove to the runner-up spot behind Edgar – making both instant contenders for a podium in their Junior SuperNationals debut.
Who to Watch: The Next Motorsport Super Star to Surface from Las Vegas
Last year’s SuperNationals was highlighted by the emergence of Bertganoli, the continuation of international drivers vying for the victory, and the tight battle chase that ended in a one-point difference between champion Brandon Lemke and David Malukas. There is a long list of drivers who could come out of Las Vegas with a breakout performance, and among them is Ocala Gran Prix driver Tyler Gonzalez. The Florida driver is making the transition from Cadet to Junior level racing this summer. Gonzalez dominated the final round of the WKA Manufacturers Cup Series at New Castle, and is coming off victory at the US Open in Las Vegas. Gonzalez could very well double down aboard his Tony Kart at the SuperNationals.
The Merlin Junior package proved strong at last year’s event once again, and has continued to do so in 2016. Among those keeping Merlin Nation in the fight is Junior rookie Sam Mayer. The Wisconsin driver was among the top contenders in the TaG Cadet division last year in Las Vegas until an error at the start of the main cost him and others a shot at the victory. Mayer has seen his ups and downs during his Junior campaign, missing out on both USPKS Junior titles to teammate Bertagnoli. Mayer is looking to end the year on a high note at the SuperNationals.
We have already highlighted the tight championship battle heading into this year’s event. International drivers are going to be strong once again with defending winner Leist returning. Another name to watch is British driver Oliver Clarke. The RPM / Tony Kart pilot is coming off a third place performance at the IAME International Final in France, and was a contender during the CIK-FIA Academy Trophy.
This year, eKartingNews.com is offering up a SKUSA SuperNationals 20 Podium Prediction contest. Rather than the staff here at EKN making the predictions, we want you to make your best guesses for each category competing in Las Vegas. Following the release of each class preview, we are asking racers and race fans to make their predictions with the chance to win EKN Gear.
If anyone is able to predict all five podium finishers in any of the 10 categories, that person will be entered into a drawing to win $200 in EKN Gear. All you have to do is submit your predictions for any of the 10 classes, or all 10 categories by November 15 at Midnight PST in the Official Discussion Thread on the EKN Forums. If you submit, you may edit your choices up until the November 15 deadline. Those who edit their submissions will be disqualified.
TaG Junior was introduced at the 2008 @superkartsusa SuperNats and has grown into one of the most competitive divisions year after year in Las Vegas. The eight who have come away with victory are climbing the ladder system in motorsports, including the newest Williams F1 driver Lance Stroll. North Americans have only won twice, including Canadian Stroll and American Logan Sargeant – who went on to win the Junior world championship in 2015. Defending champion Arthur Leist is coming back looking to make history as the first driver to win twice in the Junior category. 2015 – @ArthurLeist
2014 – @LoganSargeant
2013 – @YurikCarvalho
2012 – @Lance_Stroll
2011 – @GeorgeRussell63
2010 – @JoaoVieira119
2009 – @JakeDennis19
2008 – @FelipeFraga88
#SuperNats20 #EKNatSKUSA #teamcoopertire
X30 Junior Provisional Entry List
202g,Jacob Abel,Jay Howard’s Motorsports Driver Development (MDD),Kosmic,KY,USA
245p,Gabriel Baco,J3 Competition / Formula Works,CompKart,,PRI
04j,Alex Bertagnoli,Franklin Motorsports,Merlin,IL,USA
28b,Trey Brown,Nash Motorsportz,FA Kart,CA,USA
119y,Bianca Bustamante,Cambrian Go-Karts,BirelART,CA,PHL
136x,Logan Calderwood,Calderwood Racing,Tony Kart,AZ,USA
12y,Oliver Calvo,PKS Kart Supplies,Top Kart,CA,USA
134f,Derek Carmenate,Team Benik Kart,Tony Kart,FL,USA
506a,Oliver Clarke,Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM),Tony Kart,,GBR
25c,Joseph Daniele,Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM),Tony Kart,CA,USA
199f,Arias Deukmedjian,Jay Howard’s Motorsports Driver Development (MDD),Kosmic,FL,USA
77j,Stephen Dial,Franklin Motorsports,Merlin,IL,USA
015n,Nicholas d’Orlando,J3 Competition / Formula Works,CompKart,NY,USA
221x,Zoey Edenholm,Team Koene USA,Tony Kart,AZ,USA
142a,Jonny Edgar,Team Benik Kart,Kosmic,,GBR
259f,Dylan Gennaro,Ocala Gran Prix (OGP),Tony Kart,,USA
157f,Tyler Gonzalez,Ocala Gran Prix (OGP),Tony Kart,FL,USA
215z,Jacob Gulick,Rolison Performance Group (RPG),Kosmic,WA,USA
097a,Harrison Hoey,J3 Competition / Formula Works,CompKart,,AUS
056f,Zachary Hollingshead,Ocala Gran Prix (OGP),Tony Kart,FL,USA
53z,Jacob Hudson,Black Flag Racing Products,FA Kart,OR,USA
18t,Alejandro Jaramillo,Team Koene USA,Tony Kart,TX,USA
98x,Jagger Jones,Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM),Tony Kart,AZ,USA
313a,Niels Koolen,2Wild Karting,Tony Kart,,NED
027y,Jared Korth,PKS Kart Supplies,Tony Kart,CA,USA
02j,Maks Kowalski,Franklin Motorsports,Merlin,IL,USA
278a,Arthur Leist,Rolison Performance Group (RPG),Kosmic,,BRA
104a,Lev Lomko,VDK Racing,FA Kart,,RUS
103a,Vlad Lomko,VDK Racing,FA Kart,,RUS
216r,Ryan MacDermid,PSL Karting,Birel ART,ON,CAN
122j,Sam Mayer,Franklin Motorsports,Merlin,WI,USA
96c,Calder McWhinney,J3 Competition / Formula Works,Compkart,CA,USA
50y,Tomas Mejia,PKS Kart Supplies,Tony Kart,CA,USA
126a,Juan Mendez,Team Emilia Kart,BirelART,,PAN
85a,Angelo Mouzouris,,FA Kart,,AUS
250f,Jett Noland,NRM,Tony Kart,FL,USA
066a,Jeremias Olmedo,AM Racing,AM,,ARG
64y,Aidan O’Neill,Ron White Racing,CRG,CA,USA
262j,Sam Paley,Jay Howard’s Motorsports Driver Development (MDD),Tony Kart,OH,USA
176a,Christian Pancione,KartSport North America,FA Kart,,AUS
020j,Dalton Peak,Jay Howard’s Motorsports Driver Development (MDD),Kosmic,IN,USA
7h,Max Peichel,Top Kart USA / Grand Products,Top Kart,MN,USA
55c,Kameron Perry,CRG-SoCal / Empire Karts,Top Kart,CA,USA
211z,Edward Portz,Rolison Performance Group (RPG),Kosmic,OR,USA
143a,Jac Preston,J3 Competition / Formula Works,CompKart,,AUS
145a,Samuel Romano,CRG Nordam,CRG,,ARG
17c,Ryan Schartau,Nash Motorsportz,CRG,CA,USA
207a,Victor Schoma,PSL Karting,BirelART,,BRA
105a,Evan Spenle,CRG Nordam,CRG,,FRA
89t,Matt Stretch,Dallas Karting Complex (DKC) / SodiKart USA,SodiKart,TX,USA
214n,Dylan Tavella,Iron Rock Motorsports,Tony Kart,NY,USA
102c,Jordan Turner,Phil Giebler Racing (PGR),FA Kart,CA,USA
079a,Lucas Vicino,AM Racing,AM,,ARG
15x,Hayden Wagner,,Top Kart,CA,USA
44x,Dante Yu,J3 Competition / Formula Works,Compkart,CA,USA
82a,Dick Yu,J3 Competition / Formula Works,Compkart,,HKG